The fires started at 6:41 AM on August 16, 2020, the result of a thunderstorm that produced close to 11,000 bolts of lightning and started hundreds of fires throughout California.
The fires destroyed 1,490 buildings, including those in the communities of Boulder Creek, Bonny Doon, and Swanton in Santa Cruz county.
We evacuated our home in Boulder Creek on the night of August 18th around 11PM in the midst of a pandemic.
A Strange Day
It all started when we were woken up in the middle of the night on Sunday Aug. 16 from a rare dry lightening storm. This occurred when the state was bone dry and followed weeks of 100F+ days.
The storm stopped a few hours later and we went back to sleep and hoped for the best.
Although, a few days later, the sky was cloudy and filled with smoke and ash rained down.
Still we were covered in ignorance of of how close and dangerous the fires were about to become.
Aug 18 - Night Comes
We got the reverse 911 around 11PM to evacuate.
We took the most irreplaceable items with us and calmly got into our van to exit and find a place to spend the night.
Aug. 19 - Confusion
No End to the Fire in Sight.
No Idea if We Still Have a Home.
Over the next week, in order to maintain as much social distancing as possible due to COVID-19 and escape the heat and smoke, we decided to travel north.
We ended up using the van to boon-dock several places between Boulder Creek, CA and Bend, Oregon.
We one night with our friend Lyle, two nights at an Air-bnb in Oregon, as well as one night in a hotel.
Our GPS paths from this week is shown here.
Elk, CA & Redwood City, CA
Escaping the heat.
We drove towards the cooler north coasts of California and stayed for a few nights on the coast.
The cool air and fog were a relief from the heat and smoke in the Bay Area.
Spent time on the coast, frantically glued to social media to see how the fires were progressing.
We were planning to hunker down at Lyle's in Redwood City until we could return home, but after one night we just needed to drive and escape the Bay Area. Back to the north cooler coast.
Back to the Redwoods for the Night
We found an Air BnB in La Pine Oregon; decided to continue our journey northwards and hang out there for as long as possible.
We left Elk, CA and on Aug 22 stayed at a trailhead half-way to La Pine, OR near Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, CA.
The next day we did a nice hike through some of the foggiest and biggest old growth in the US, then finished our drive to La Pine to the Air BnB.
We spent two nights in La Pine, one in Bend and another parked in the woods near Crater Lake.
Still, no real idea as to the outcome of the fire.
Stanford Housing and Avenue of the Giants
After spending time in Oregon, Jen's employer found us longer term temporary housing back in the Bay Area.
This was good, because we both had to get back to work the following Monday - and doing that from our current set up on the road would have been difficult.
I was also starting back at Facebook; so we drove back to Mountain View and stayed one more night boon docking on the Ave. of the Giants on the way there.
Aug. 28-Sept. 2
We checked into our temp. hotel and got situated for the next week. Everything was semi-normal again, but we still didn't know how much if any damage was done to the town and our home.
It was around the first week of Sept. that the fire evacuation was lifted so we could go back and survey our home.
Early September we finally started the drive back home when the evacuation order was lifted.
The amount of thanks we and the community have for the fire fighters and police are immense.
If you have a second, please donate a few bucks to our local volunteer fire station as this directly makes a huge impact on the community
We were fortunate to have our home still standing to return to, thousands of people did not.
Everything was covered in ash.
We breathed in the still smokey air and began to clean up...